My home of Lee County, Florida, is a perfect example of what is wrong with American education as a whole. The problem is that much of America doesn’t really give a damn about education.
Media and public debate is a good measure of relative importance of social issues. This being the case, Lee County indicts its perspective of education. This year our public schools are experiencing a tremendous budget shortfall. The budget is based on projected enrollment. This year enrollment did not come close to expectations. The result, budget cuts. Granted, there are not as many students to deal with, but the budget cuts are usually done at the expense of teachers and classrooms. According to School Board member Robert Chilmonik, Lee county has a higher administrator to teacher ratio than the state as a whole. Is there any evidence to suggest that such a high ratio has a beneficial impact on student education? If there is, I haven’t seen it.
Chilmonik offers some interesting ways to save money and preserve quality education in Lee County, but really, news of educational budget shortfalls and teachers losing their jobs meet with a collosal “ho hum” from the media and the voting public. In matters such as our children’s educations the community should be banding together to solve this serious social problem.
But we are not.
Instead we are concerned with…
…people who hit balls with sticks.
Recently, the Boston Red Sox announced that they will move their spring training to Sarasota. There was an immediate response from the community and our local pols. We must find a way to keep the Red Sox in Fort Myers! We can’t let them leave. (what about the teachers who lost their jobs? Who?) With characteristic innovation the county came up with a plan. A bed tax that was put into place to provide funds to protect our beaches (a key to our tourism economy) would sacrifice 20% of its funds to build a brand new ball park and training facilities and seduce the Red Sox into a thirty year contract (which they already have, by the way).
So there it is. School budgets get cut. That’s life. Red Sox are going to hit balls in Sarasota…let’s get active.
I say let the Red Sox go. Yes, they generate some revenue, but it’s obviously not helping our economy all that much. In my years in this area I’ve seen a number of baseball teams pack up their marbles and move, and the community has not suffered.
But this is irrelevent. What is relevant is the relative status placed on baseball as compared to school.
As a professional teacher, I know that academic expectations are good predictors of academic success. What is the community telling its students (not to mention its teachers) when men hitting balls with sticks are so obviously more important than taking care of schools?